The American film producer Sterling van Wagenen, one of the two founders of the Sundance film festival, has been behind bars for child abuse for at least six years, the judge announced on Tuesday. Van Wagenen had already known guilt.
The judge in the case pronounced on Tuesday a sentence of six years for life imprisonment, and according to The Hollywood Reporter indicated that he hopes that the 72-year-old is longer than the minimum.
Together with Robert Redford, Van Wagenen was at the cradle of Sundance, which had its first edition in 1978. Redford is still involved in the film festival, Van Wagenen left in the 90s.
“Van Wagenen twice assaulted a friend of his son’s”
The abuse case came to light in January when a sound recording popped up in which Van Wagenen admits to having committed the child. According to the local newspaper The Daily Utah Chronicle , it was about a friend of his son’s who was staying with them.
The abuse is said to have occurred twice, in 2013 and 2015, when the girl was 10 and 13 years old.
Judge praises victim for declaring Wagenen
The judge praised the victim on Tuesday to report her courage to Van Wagenen. “You did what was right and you are not responsible for what happened and what will happen. You are a brave young woman.”
The Sundance Institute, the organizer of the film festival, previously responded to the charges against the co-founder.
The foundation announced that it rejected Van Wagenen’s behavior. The institute also said: “We declare our solidarity with everyone who is so brave to tell the truth and to expose abuse.”